FBI Sued Over Facial Recognition, Biometric Database On Americans


The recent revelations about the National Security Agency’s policy of collecting American communications data in bulk has citizens throughout the Nation on high alert for all things related to government spying. A developing story about the FBI’s effort to compile an improved biometrics database provides a good example of why privacy advocates are justified in their concerns.

Last year, the Electronic Frontier Foundation submitted three separate Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the FBI seeking information on the agency’s plans to build a “bigger, faster and better” biometrics database that would incorporate facial and voice recognition technology along with other biometric identifiers.

Credit: Sam Rolley

The FBI’s Next Generation Identification (NGI) biometrics database would replace and expand upon the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) and is expected to start integrating facial recognition components as early as next year.

Despite quickening progress on the project, the FBI has failed to provide up-to-date information about its plans and hasn’t responded to the EFF’s FOIA requests. Last week, EFF filed a lawsuit against the FBI in a bid to compel agency officials to release the requested information.

Read the full complaint below:

“NGI will result in a massive expansion of government data collection for both criminal and noncriminal purposes,” says EFF Staff Attorney Jennifer Lynch, who has testified before the U.S. Senate on the privacy implications of facial recognition. “Biometrics programs present critical threats to civil liberties and privacy. Face-recognition technology is among the most alarming new developments, because Americans cannot easily take precautions against the covert, remote, and mass capture of their images.”

In its FOIA filings, EFF sought information pertaining to “agreements and discussions between the FBI and various state agencies regarding the face-recognition program; records addressing the reliability of face-recognition technology; and documentation of the FBI’s plan to merge civilian and criminal records in a single repository.”

Lynch asserts what many Americans caught off-guard by news of vast government spying likely believe: that the government should be transparent in forthcoming efforts to collect information about Americans.

“Before the federal government decides to expand its surveillance powers, there needs to be a public debate,” Lynch says. “But there can be no public debate until the details of the program are presented to the public.”

If you are super worried about government facial recognition technology, you could always get some of these dorky glasses designed by Japan’s National Institute of Informatics to thwart facial recognition cameras.


Personal Liberty

Sam Rolley

Sam Rolley began a career in journalism working for a small town newspaper while seeking a B.A. in English. After covering community news and politics, Rolley took a position at Personal Liberty Media Group where could better hone his focus on his true passions: national politics and liberty issues. In his daily columns and reports, Rolley works to help readers understand which lies are perpetuated by the mainstream media and to stay on top of issues ignored by more conventional media outlets.

Join the Discussion

Comment Policy: We encourage an open discussion with a wide range of viewpoints, even extreme ones, but we will not tolerate racism, profanity or slanderous comments toward the author(s) or comment participants. Make your case passionately, but civilly. Please don't stoop to name calling. We use filters for spam protection. If your comment does not appear, it is likely because it violates the above policy or contains links or language typical of spam. We reserve the right to remove comments at our discretion.

  • txbadonetoo

    How long before the Govt just injects us with a self contained tracking/exploding capsule as they did in the movie Total Recall? This is just getting to be ridiculous. The Govt knows where we are 24 hours a day but none of us know what Obama was doing on the evening of 9/11/2012 while our Ambassador was murdered. Hypocrites.

    • DirtDiver76

      Your “tracking” device is already out. Though in most cases, not mandatory, they are offered to those who are perversely worried they may be murdered and dumped in the back 40 somewhere. Harris Bio-industries makes one version of the alpha numeric chip, which is no bigger than a grain of rice and fits subcutaneously. These have been out for nearly 15 years or more, and are frequently used in livestock and pets.
      As for the exploding microchip? Liability on that one alone tells us we are decades away from even conceiving something so invasive. Though a collar or bracelet for violent offenders may be in the works. Honestly, the best mode of thought… if Hollywood has conceived the notion in movies… the technology is being developed as you watch it. Hollywood is an indicator of things to come; just look at the Barrett M82 (Robo Cop), Electronically printed and usable tools and even food items (Star Trek), bio-chips and DNA identification technology… the list goes on.
      Your great grand children will live in a very different and introverted (if not invasive) world. We need a law, which restricts any technological advancements which invade in the lives and liberties of human beings. Progress is good, if used properly and responsibly.

      • txbadonetoo

        Thanks for the response.. I agree with your conclusion. Technology is great if used for the good of people. Medical research is a perfect example. Mobile communications/computing is a good example. But if it evolves to be used against normal USA citizens.. not so good.

        Let’s hope we put some protections in place before our grand kids are subjected to every new controll technology.

  • Peter Aung

    It is a bad thing.

  • adrianvance

    You’ve got to know they built all these bureaus for the guys who didn’t get to be in the Gestapo.

    See The Two Minute Conservative via Google or: http://adrianvance.blogspot.com and when you speak ladies will swoon and liberal gentlemen will weep.

  • Alan

    These agencies ( NSA,FBI etc, ) seem to be in a contest to see which one can be the most invasive bunch of s.o.b.’s on the planet. It’s bad enough you cant walk down a street in most cities without being watched by a camera, now we have these pukes competing fo [expletive deleted] of the year. There must be bonuses involved like the scum at IRS.